I was somewhere between the past and the present. Some days I would sit in the park and live into my memories. I smiled through my tears. My romance with Kesner had all been so beautiful, like nothing I’d experienced. I remembered not trusting it. ‘This can’t be real,’ I thought. ‘This can’t possibly last.’ I picked small quarrels for no reason, just to be heard.
And to test if he really loved me.
I was waiting for one of my flaws to surface and ruin everything; ‘I’m not who he thinks I am’- I thought. ‘Do I deserve this?‘
As I sat in the park and reflected on these things, I realized how silly I had been to doubt Kesner’s love. I realized that my greatest flaw was my own insecurity. This would have been the sabotaging flaw. Insecurity can make you so self-aware and self-obsessed that you can’t see the other person in a relationship. You see them only through blinders of self-perception.
Had I done this to Kesner? Had I been so self-involved that I couldn’t see that his were the gestures of a man facing his mortality?
‘I will love again and I will love differently,’ I promised myself. ‘I will love unselfishly.’
To love a dying man was a gift because he seemed to know what was important. Kesner taught me how to love. Often when I would bicker with him he would not argue back, but simply say “I understand.”
What did he understand? – I wondered.
Perhaps his ‘understanding’ was a preference for harmony over the need to be right.
I wanted this understanding. Meditation would help me get there…
I was introduced to the practice of Tonglen in one of the books that Susan Taylor sent to me. Tonglen is a prcatice of meditation found in Tibetan Budhism. This is how the practice is described by Pema Chodron:
“The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us— everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us …. one’s whole attitude toward pain can change. Instead of fending it off and hiding from it, one could open one’s heart and allow oneself to feel that pain, feel it as something that will soften and purify us and make us far more loving and kind.” (“When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times,” Pema Chodron – and http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/tonglen1.php)
Basically tonglen is a breathing excercise: I would connect with my pain, feel it, and then I would think about everyone who was feeling the exact same way in that moment, all around the world. I would take a deep inhale and breathe in the pain and sorrow of all humanity. Then I would exhale and breath out LOVE, peace and compassion for everyone; prayers of healing for myself and the world. This breathing excercise made me feel connected and not so alone in my sadness. It helped a lot.
I began to practice tonglen regularly and to reflect on matters of understanding, acceptance and growth. How could I use this experience? How has it softened and purified me? - I reflected on these things also.
Kristen (Haystacks and Sisterhood) was my second friend to send for me over the summer.
The week after I returned from Camp Dudley and the day after my father’s wedding, I flew to see Kristern in Maryland. There is a winery in Maryland that hosts pretty fantastic reggae wine festivals throughout the summer. Kristen sent me a plane ticket to come in for this event. She’d planned everything. She had a portable tent and chairs, and a plethora of snacks with which to enjoy our wine. All I had to do was show up.
When I arrived on Saturday morning, we didn’t waste time in getting to the festival. Carrying the tent and chairs and putting it all together was more strenuous than we both imagined, but once we were settled in our spot in the grass we had a beautiful time together. We enjoyed cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, fried chicken and wine, while listening to the musical renderings of a live reggae band. It was a beautiful day with my sister-friend, Kristen.
Later we came back to Kristen’s place and spent time together with no agenda or plan. Kristen has a spacious two bedroom/two bath condo with an open kitchen, living, dining, and den area. The colors in her place are warm and she has a great kitchen; it’s very large, with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. Her’s was the next comfortable place where I would stay.
Being there with her and spending down time, reminded me of our days living together as roommates in brooklyn; it was a comfort.
The following day we went to DC and visited the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we decided to sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and relax for a bit. As we sat, out of nowhere, I began to sing “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me..”
Without question, Kristen began to sing with me. The two of us sat side by side on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and we sang the familiar song from our childhood days:
“…with God as our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony…”
Harmony, I thought.
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011